- Mental Health
I didn’t really drink much until 1969. I was a medic in the army and experienced a couple of traumatic events that resulted in two deaths. Like Forrest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that.”
Anyway, after that, I started to drink moderately. I was married with an infant son while I was away and got a “Dear John” in the mail. I was divorced while I was still in the service. After I got out of the service, I went a little wild and drank more.
Both my parents were alcoholics. My dad was career military man from Pearl Harbor until the beginning of Vietnam. He drank all the time after he retired. He never talked about his 23 years in the service. My mother drank, too. A couple of beers and she was drunk.
I promised myself I would only drink beer and not wind up like my father. I wound up drinking for 30 years. My present wife (of 43 years) took my mom to a twelve step fellowship and she was sober for 5 years but stayed with my father until she had a heart attack at age 50.
My father didn’t even go to my mother’s funeral. He was too drunk. He died of alcoholism at the VA in Montgomery, AL. He was 60. By that time I had made enough money to where I bought a couple of condos in Gulf Shores, AL. I made enough money that I didn’t have to work for anybody. I switched over to the hard stuff and my wife and I would frequently go to clubs or The American Legion. We drank together but she is not an alcoholic.
There started to be friction between the two of us over alcohol. She said I had to quit but I didn’t. I didn’t change until I was told by my oldest daughter that I couldn’t be a part of my granddaughter’s life if I continued to drink. (My granddaughter was 2 years old, and is now is a junior in college.) I asked my wife to call the Atlanta, VA to get help. The next morning I walked into the VA with a beer in my hand.
I went to the detox unit and finished my last beer. I stayed in the hospital for five days to detox, then went through their 28 day program. After that, there was weekly aftercare for three months. I stayed for six months. After that I went to 12 step meetings and did ninety meetings in 90 days. Then I spent the next ten years active in the twelve step program.
But something was still wrong. I was diagnosed with severe depression. I took every SSRI (antidepressant) like Prozac and Paxil. It didn’t help. This was over a ten year period. As a last resort, I was offered ECT (shock therapy) to one side of my brain. It worked. I had 25 treatments over 13 months.
No more depression, but I became angry all the time. I was then diagnosed with PTSD. I had unknowingly been self-medicating myself since I got out of the army. So I then went through 15 weeks of cognitive therapy sessions. That ended this past month. I have been mentally screwed up for 45 years. But through all this, I never drank or relapsed.
I now have 17 years sober thanks to my twelve step program. And my wife and I are still together. Amazing. Well that’s about it for my story. I am on this web site to possibly help others with alcoholism and depression. I know this is a long post but someone asked me to tell my story and that is it. Thank you.